Sam Merron

Talent Acquisition Manager, LYTT

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

Lots of happy memories but one that stands out is going on holiday to Milford on Sea with my Nan, Uncle & 2 Cousins. I would have been around 10 years old, and it was my first real taste of independence. Growing up in a busy house with 2 older brothers, having a say or a voice was often challenging so this was a great memory spent with lovely people who weren’t trying to get me in headlocks like my 2 brothers would. I encourage anyone who has multiple children, if they can, split them up at times to enjoy their own fun.

2. What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?

I picked up a flyer on the floor on Bromley High Street circa 2008, I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of “Do you have a good personality? Come to an assessment day for a new career”.

The flyer was for a company called Networkers International and I went along and ended up getting a job offer to become a Recruitment Consultant. I didn’t even know what Recruitment was before that day. I didn’t know it at the time but this small thing of being in Bromley and going along to the assessment on that day then shaped a future career in recruitment and talent acquisition. I went on to have a successful & enjoyable 5.5 years at Networkers International which led to my career in Talent Acquisition.

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

The importance of DE&I.

I grew up in an area that wasn’t diverse at all, and it was only when I started to travel, educate myself (because they didn’t at school) and work in environments which exposed me to people outside of my rural Kent bubble that I learned more about people. I often think back to times at school where I may have seen discrimination or injustice and because it didn’t affect me directly, I didn’t say anything. That’s not cool. I’m now in a position in my career where I can make changes to societal failings of the past by hiring great talent based off exactly that, talent. I am also a lot more educated on the importance of DE&I which translates to my personal life and it something I am very passionate about. I am a firm believer that it’s not the job of someone from a marginalised community to educate others about their struggle. It’s your job.

4. Name a well-known person you admire and explain why you hold them high esteem?

Linked to the above response, I could easily say Paul McCartney, Ian Wright, Ben Stokes, Tiger Woods etc (because those are my interests) but I would like to say Akala. From reading his book, Natives Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire to watching him speak or debate I don’t think I have seen a more impressive person in their field in recent years. I don’t know if it will ever happen but I’d like to see Akala become Prime Minister.

5. What is your untrainable superpower?

I can get along with most people and I seem to make friends very easily. Maybe I am likable, maybe I am a good communicator…not sure, my wife thinks it’s weird. It’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. Recruitment & Talent Acquisition is probably good career choice with this superpower.

6. What is the number one thing you would recommend every person in the world to practice from now on in order to increase their happiness and wellbeing?

If you can, get moving. I find that daily exercise makes me happy, clears my head, focusses me and helps my sleep. It’s not always easy to be motivated but I have been practising exercise during my working day for a long time that I know I have to do it. I don’t exercise to look a certain way, I do it for my mental health & well-being. I recommend it to everyone, block out time in your diary for it.

7. Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?

Yes, and I would say that getting older & wiser the beliefs become stronger. I am big believer in fairness, power to the people and I hate injustice so the more I see & the more I learn the stronger the beliefs get.

8. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

Whenever there is a loud group gathering, I always feel like an outsider. I’m not a loud person, I observe a lot too and I much prefer a 1 on 1 or more intimate setting. It’s not so much that I have learnt, more so that I have always known that I don’t feel the need to change myself to fit in or be noticed. The environment of agency recruitment is a good example, we’re talking 10+ years ago when it was big characters, big nights out and it was never really my scene.

9. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

I bought some carbon plated Nike running shoes. I broke my foot in a Dad’s race at school and have been living in pain for 2 years so upon the advice from my doctor I needed to go carbon plated. They are a dream and I think I am in love with them.

10. What is your most prized possession? What’s the story behind it?

An official Arsenal fixture booklet from the 1891-92 Season. It should probably be in a museum given the date. It was left to me buy my Nan who had it passed down from her from her family who were among some of the earliest Arsenal fans. She was the only grandparent I got to know as an adult and we had a great relationship until she passed away. It has her handwriting on the envelope it’s kept in, it’s priceless to me.

11. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

I would like to own Rick’s Café, in Negril, Jamaica. I went there for the first time this year and it’s the BEST bar I’ve ever been too. Music is 10/10, there is a swimming pool in the bar, it’s also in a cove area surrounded by cliffs where people at the bar jump off into the sea (up to 40 feet). It’s a truly amazing place.

12. Aside from family & friends, if you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?

I am going with 4 because I can’t, leave one out. The Fab Four. John, Paul, Goerge & Ringo. The Beatles are my favourite group, artists whatever you want to call them. I am a super fan. So that would be a dream dinner party. Bring your instruments too lads.

13. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?

I should have moved into inhouse Talent Acquisition years before I did. I am grateful of the opportunities that agency recruitment gave me and had a great time but it wasn’t until I moved into TA that I started to feel real career development and achievement. It was no longer about chasing after a big pay check, moving to TA gave me personal growth that agency did not. I probably spent 4 years too to long in agency side.

14. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it and when?

When I was trying to move inhouse and not many companies where interested as my experience was too international I reached out to Steve Jacobs who gave me some great pointers. It wasn’t the advice that was groundbreaking, but the fact we didn’t know each other at the time like we do now and he was willing to go out of his way to first respond and secondly help. It made me realise 2 things, that don’t be afraid to ask for advice as a lot of the time people will actually help & the other is that when someone comes to me for advice…do the same. Your small actions can mean big things for others. Steve is my guy now, still waiting for him to take me to the Emirates though.

15. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

Human errors & mistakes don’t bother me that much because I’ve done them too. An example if someone doesn’t join meeting as they’ve not seen it in their diary….it happens to the best of us. A lot of learning can come from mistakes too, what can we do better next time etc. I’m sure that may be different if I worked in the VAR team in the Premier League lol

16. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

I am the introducer, the facilitator. I don’t mind being the first person to speak and always go out of my way make others feel welcome because I know it doesn’t come as easy to some. I am also big on recognition too so like to make sure people in the team are getting a shout out for being great.

17. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

The treatment of a lot of TA people this year has been frightening. You just have to open your LinkedIn to read the stories of redundancy & ghosting when in 2022 TA was flavour of the month and there was a big fight for great TA people. I am biased but you will find some of the best people working in TA and I hope for a better 2024 and some lessons learned in how to treat people from this year.

18. Who In our industry would make a great Prime Minister (or equivalent role in your country)?

Hung Lee for Prime Minister – and I’m not just saying that because I am on Brainfood. For as long as I can remember Hung has been a man of the people, looking out for others, connecting folks, sharing insights. A week doesn’t go by without seeing some content shared that has a positive effect on TA & People industry so for that….we thank you.

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

What is your dream job & why?

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

I would have said Sophie Power because she is one of my favourite people but Sophie did the last 20 questions, so I will go with Ben O’Mahony because he has had a really interesting & inspiring career journey from Recruiter to Head of Data Engineering to now CEO & Founder of a very cool platform for the TA industry. Plus he makes fantastic pizza and is a Sabrage Master

Thank you to Sam Merron or taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Sam on LinkedIn.

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